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On Sri Lanka, Reuters' Praise of Stratfor Trumped by Stoking of Death Threats

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 20 – The release of e-mails from Stratfor, the privately owned intelligence company, has sparked a controversy regarding Sri Lanka and Reuters' bureau chief there, Bryson Hull.

   One 2010 e-mail depicts Hull promoting his “ace-in-the-hole analyst, Reva Bhalla of Stratfor... a consummate information dealer... we had a very successful relationship during the end of the war in Sri Lanka.”

   Groundviews has been asking Hull to explain the e-mail. (Inner City Press has learned from some Hull reports in the past, for example in 2012 on the Maldives.) Hull has replied, among other things, that Reva Bhalla "was quoted by name in a Reuters story.”

   That would be far better than Reuters' UN bureau, which recently allowed a senior UN official to go nameless while essentially declaring war in the Eastern Congo.

   As regards Sri Lanka, Reuters' UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau in 2012 played a leading role in a campaign to try to oust Inner City Press first from the UN Correspondents Association then from the UN as a whole.

   Triggering the campaign was a story Inner City Press wrote about Sri Lanka, war crimes and conflicts of interest - click here for the account of the UK-based Sri Lanka campaign, chaired by Kofi Annan's former communications chief Edward Mortimer.

   Most troubling, when the UNCA proceeding Reuters' Charbonneau was pushing led to Inner City Press receiving death threats from extremist supporters of Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa government, Charbonneau refused to stop or even suspend the proceedings. “Go to the New York Police Department,” he said dismissively.

  The campaign only stopped when Inner City Press requested then obtained documents from Voice of America, which reflected among other things Reuters support for VOA's June 20 request to the UN to “review” Inner City Press' accreditation, and Reuters contemplating a (SLAPP) lawsuit against Inner City Press.

Inner City Press wrote several times to the top editors at Reuters, Stephen J. Adler, Walden Siew, and Paul Ingrassia, trying to make them aware of the death threats that were triggered by the actions of their UN bureau chief.

   But as reflected in the documents obtained from VOA under FOIA, Reuters had adopted and apparently continues a policy of not responding to any issue raised by Inner City Press -- including the receipt of death threats.

   On October 2012, Charbonneau was asked in writing to explain some of the documents obtained under FOIA; he made no response.

   Charbonneau remains in 2013 the first vice president of UNCA, which in connected to several anonymous social media accounts which have said without any basis that Inner City Press is funded by Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers.

  Reuters' record of using, even stoking, extremism in Sri Lanka goes well beyond the Wikileaked email of Bryson Hull about Stratfor. But who will answer for it? Watch this site.

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